Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food documentary: King Corn

KING CORN (2007)

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, an acre of corn and what they learn over the course of a year. The documentary starts with Ian Cheney and Kurt Ellis finding out that their hair is mostly made of corn. Wondering how this is possible when they eat mostly hamburgers, Ian and Kurt decide to learn more about corn by moving to Iowa for one year to grow an acre of the productive crop.

To fill the time between their farming duties, Ian and Kurt talk with locals about modern farming and what happens to the corn once it's harvested. The film shows how corn has become one of the most-productive and most-subsidized grains in America, and how it is the key ingredient in most of the food they consume. Which takes us back to the beef in their hamburgers.The documentary does use a gimmick, in much of the same way Super Size Me does. And, Ian and Kurt know it. They aren't the smartest boys to graduate from college and they don't know a lot about farming or food, but they redeem themselves by trying. The documentary presents some good information about where the majority of corn goes- feeding cattle for the beef industry and corn syrup.

The film provides a high-level overview of corn. It doesn't go into detail about any of the issues facing the agriculture industry such as the state of our food system, modern farming practices, genetically modified foods, use of pesticides and government subsidizes. Overall, the film was engaging, but not particularly educational.

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